NEW YORK – Veteran diplomat and former United Nations Ambassador John Bolton says Hillary Clinton soon will be out at the State Department and Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., will succeed her as secretary of state.

With the 2012 Election Day over, changes now are expected in several offices in Washington, including the Department of Justice, where Attorney General Eric Holder told law school students at the University of Baltimore that he does not know if he will stay.

According to the CBS report, he said, “That’s something that I’m in the process now of trying to determine. I have to think about, can I contribute in a second term?”

Bolton said the issue was different for Kerry and the State Department.

“He’s bored (in the Senate),” explained Bolton.

Kerry currently is chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and is believed to be on an Obama short list for the State Department slot. But there is competition.

Current U.S.-U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice also covets the position.

“She is being groomed for the position,” said U.S. Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security.

One problem for Rice is Libya.

Rice’s continued misstatements and her lack of a credible explanation on what happened to spark the terror attack that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and others in Libya has led King to conclude that she has failed to be truthful. He wants her resignation.

“If her nomination comes to the Hill, you can be sure it will have some tough opposition,” said King.

Rice is likely to become the next national security adviser, said Bolton.

Rice would succeed Tom Donilon, who is suspected of being the source for the administration’s original, and incorrect, story that the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi was carried out by fanatic Islamic radicals protesting a YouTube video.

Such a decision on Rice would not need Senate confirmation and the risk of embarrassing confirmation hearings.

Replacing Rice at the United Nations would likely be Wendy Sherman, said Bolton.

Sherman currently is under-secretary of state for political affairs and is a veteran diplomatic trouble shooter dating back to the Clinton administration.

Another factor that could influence a Kerry nomination is the political situation in the Senate and in Massachusetts.

With Republicans eyeing a Senate majority in 2014, Majority Leader Harry Reid may not want to lose Kerry.

A vacant Kerry seat would obligate Mass. Gov. Deval Patrick to appoint a temporary custodian who would need to run in a special election by June 2013.

That could give a new lease on life to Sen. Scott Brown, the Republican incumbent who narrowly lost to Elizabeth Warren this week.

Brown has already indicated he would run to fill a vacated Kerry seat.

Bolton said Obama does have some time to make a decision, explaining that the president would likely not make a move until early next year.

“Hillary will not leave until Tom Pickering completes his investigation on Libya.”

Pickering, a retired U.S. diplomat, was appointed by Clinton to investigate the security breakdowns in Benghazi that resulted in the deaths of the four Americans.

It is not clear just when Pickering will complete his investigation.

If Kerry gets the nod, Bolton foresees an easy Senate confirmation. As for Clinton, it’s unlikely she ever has given up on the idea of being president, a desire that put her in the position of fighting Obama in 2008.

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